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CNN’s Jeff Zucker To Oversee Turner Sports

“The man he is replacing, David Levy, plays an active role in securing rights deals with the NCAA, the NBA and Major League Baseball for Turner.”

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AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner has caused some corporate reshuffling. David Levy is out as president of Turner, and that means a new leader is needed for Turner Sports. AT&T will hand the reigns of that division over to CNN President Jeff Zucker according to Joe Flint of The Wall Street Journal.

Flint noted in his report that not only is Zucker a huge sports fan, but that he even cited ESPN’s First Take as his guide for remaking CNN’s election coverage. It is something Zucker spoke about in a 2017 New York Times profile.

 Zucker is a big sports fan and from the early days of the campaign had spoken at editorial meetings about wanting to incorporate elements of ESPN’s programming into CNN’s election coverage. “The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way,” he told me. Toward that end, the network built “pregame” sets outside debate halls with excited crowds in the background and created a temporary rooftop studio for the final weeks of the campaign with sweeping views of the White House and the Washington Monument. An on-screen countdown clock ticked down the days (then hours) to Nov. 8. Trump, the trash-talking (and trash-Tweeting) underdog who inspired raw, powerful feelings among supporters and detractors alike, was the ideal subject for this narrative framework.

Jonathan Mahler, The New York Times

Prior to taking the reigns at CNN, Zucker rose through the ranks at NBC. He started as a producer for NBC News before moving on to run The Today Show and eventually becoming CEO of NBC Universal.

By all accounts, Zucker took a hands-off approach to NBC Sports during his time as CEO of NBC Universal. The man he is replacing, David Levy, plays an active role in securing rights deals with the NCAA, the NBA and Major League Baseball for Turner. It remains to be seen how involved Zucker will have to be in that process. Also waiting to be determined is the future of Lenny Daniels, who has served as president of Turner Sports since 2014.

Sports TV News

Jenny Taft Details Security Measures For Female Journalists In Qatar For World Cup

“I just had to go through a special gate in Qatar for ladies only. Somehow, I don’t feel that special about it.”

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Much has been made about the abysmal human rights record of World Cup host Qatar as the Middle East nation sees worldwide attention for one of the first times. FOX Sports reporter Jenny Taft detailed the experience of a female journalist covering the event, and was less than impressed.

“I just had to go through a special gate in Qatar for ladies only,” Taft said. “Somehow, I don’t feel that special about it.”

Taft had received pushback from viewers and media personalities for her coverage during the World Cup opener, and her interview with the organizers of Qatar’s bid to host the event. Many called FOX’s coverage “tone-deaf” and “proppoganda”.

Taft has continued chronically her experience at the World Cup on her TikTok account, with one video mentioning how difficult it was to leave behind her baby for the nearly month-long assignment.

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Sports TV News

Peter Burns Apologizes To Ben Watson After On-Air Joke About Wife

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

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SEC Network host Peter Burns has publicly apologized to analyst Ben Watson and his wife Kirsten for an off-color joke he made during halftime of Saturday’s Florida/Vanderbilt game on the network.

While joking about Watson’s suit being lighter in color than everyone else’s on set, Watson said he didn’t care what the other hosts thought about his suit, just as long as his wife thought he looked nice, and asked her to “send the text” letting him know he looked good. Burns quipped “that’s not the text she sent me” before going to commercials. When the show returned, Burns and Watson were not on set, and the former NFL tight end insinuated the pair had a strong disagreement during the break.

Later that evening, Burns tweeted a picture of the pair with the caption #Friendship, which Watson retweeted saying Burns needed to publicly apologize. He did that Monday evening.

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

An ESPN representative had previously told OutKick the entire situation was a joke, calling it a “performance bit”, adding Watson “100% deserves an Emmy nomination”.

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Sports TV News

Rece Davis: College GameDay Needed Someone Like Pete Thamel for Years

“It’s like because of this podcast and that, people have started to think of us as two guys who might someday star in a buddy movie.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN’s College GameDay has a formula to it that has made the show work for so long. It’s not scripted at all, but it’s organized in a way that gives the show structure.

And sometimes time constraints force producers and the hosts to have to make adjustments on the fly, like eliminating segments or elements within segments.

GameDay host Rece Davis talked about it on Monday’s edition of the College GameDay podcast with ESPN senior college football writer Pete Thamel. Davis praised Thamel for his contributions to the show but acknowledged that often Thamel whose hits on the show end up struck because of time.

“All of us sacrifice some, but you’re one of the ones who take heavy hits in terms of things getting cut,” Davis said. Thamel’s tweets are often featured throughout the show, and Davis makes it a point to recognize Thamel on the air. “That’s why I try to give you a shoutout when I see the tweets pop up on the screen, which are amazing by the way.”

Davis said Thamel’s ability to provide up to the second information on relevant and timely stories in college football has been a welcomed change to the show.

“You’ve brought something to GameDay that GameDay’s desperately needed for years,” he said. “It’s like because of this podcast and that, people have started to think of us as two guys who might someday star in a buddy movie.”

GameDay will be on location this weekend for the showdown between Michigan and Ohio State. This past weekend the show was live from Montana State.

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